Joel Fields on The Americans

Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings are small-business owners, travel agents, raising two all-American children, 14-year-old Paige and 11-year-old Henry, in a pleasant, tree-lined suburb of Washington, D.C. Neither the kids nor the FBI agent who lives across the street realizes that the Jennings are also deeply embedded KGB agents whose real enterprise is spying on President Ronald Reagan’s government. Their covert missions can be as tense and nail-biting as anything ever imagined by Ian Fleming or John LeCarre, but what makes this parallax period piece more than an addictive cliffhanger – what in fact intensifies every mission – is how creator Joe Weisberg and his team shrewdly use the Jennings’ double lives to contemplate duty, honor, parental responsibility, fidelity, both nationalistic and marital, and what it means to be an American.

Read the full winner’s citation here.